In a matter of hours on Friday, Typhoon Haiyan completely devastated parts of the central Philippines. It was one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The death toll is estimated up to 10,000 with hundreds of thousands more displaced. The country has declared a “state of calamity.”
Hi everyone! Here’s an updated Watercolor Materials List and beginners advice for your reference. I get questions about materials almost all the time so I hope this finally answers your questions! I believe in sharing knowledge and helping others get a good start in painting so I’ll do what I can to help.
KINDS: Watercolor paper comes in 3 different kinds, Cold Press (or “NOT”), Hot Press and Rough. These paper types vary in teeth or grain. Cold Press (or NOT) is the most common variety found in art supply stores. It has enough grain to give a light textured look. I also think this is the easiest to use for beginners. Hot Press (HP) is smoother than Cold Press. Rough, as the name suggests, is rougher than Cold Press, ideal for sketchier and dry strokes. What’s the best kind? All of them are great. The best kind of paper for you will have to depend on your personal preference or what goes with your style.
FORMS: Paper comes in different forms. They come in Block, Pad or Individual Sheets. Since paper buckles when wet, some artists use Blocks in order to hold paper from buckling. But if your sheets are thick enough, you seldom have to worry about buckling. There are also watercolor sketchbooks like Moleskine.
Blocks have glue blind on all sides. This holds the paper from shrinking or buckling (but not 100% of the time). This is Arches.
LEVELS: Something that you might find useful when buying — Each material, paper, brush or paint, has a “level”. They’re the following: a) Academic or Scholastic, b) Studio and c) Artist level.
Academic/Scholastic is meant for beginners or student work. Since it’s not for very serious use, the quality is just good enough to create a decent picture but not ideal for archival use. Studio level is a little higher, quality is mid-range. Some brands don’t have Academic/Scholastic level ones and their lowest is Studio. Some Studio level materials are acid-free, archival or can last for long periods but in terms of craftsmanship, Artist level is still the highest. For Artist level ones, you’re sure that pigments are concentrated, paper is acid free and buffered, etc. and it is more immune to abuse (scratching, rubbing, etc.) As a result, Artist level materials can be very expensive (ex. a $100 brush — yes it exists!). What level should I buy? If you’re starting out, try Academic/Scholastic or Studio first. You’ll make a lot of mess and waste at the start, trust me on this! So I don’t recommend buying Artist level yet. If you want to produce paintings to sell, present or to keep forever, definitely buy Artist level.
KINDS: The most essential paintbrush for watercoloring is the Round Brush. The nice thing about the round brush is that it has a sharp tip for details and if you add pressure to the brush, you can create wide strokes. There’s also the Flat/Wash Brush which holds a lot of water and as its name suggests, it’s ideal for creating washes or filling large areas. There are a lot more brushes you can use, these are just the basic. They come in different sizes as well. In the photo above, the rightmost brush’s tip is not sharp anymore. If it comes to this, time to replace it with a newer one.
BRISTLES: If you’re starting out, try synthetic bristles. Watercolor brushes usually come in brown, orange or white-nylon bristles. Nylon is firmer compared to the brown ones and 100% synthetic. The “browner” or softer bristles are sometimes called synthetic sables. They work just like sable brushes but of course, since its composition is part synthetic, it’s not as expensive and the quality isn’t at par. If you’re ready to splurge, you can try animal hairs like 100% sable, kolinsky, sheep, dog, racoon, horse, etc. Make sure your brushes spring back up after you wet them. The bristle type is often written on the label.
3) WATERCOLOR PAINT
Watercolor paint comes in 2 forms, Pan Sets or Tubes. Which is better? Neither. Both are great! The difference is in usage. Pan Sets are more portable, whereas Tubes might be a hassle to carry but it’s easier to mix colors in volume. What people suggest is squeezing out Tube paints to the wells of your palette, mixing the colors you’d like to use (if applicable) and leaving them there to dry (but not crackling dry) before using.
If you’re a beginner, I always suggest Prang. It’s available in 8 colors or 16 colors in Pan Set form. Prang’s colors are vibrant and they feel like high quality paints even if they’re just scholastic/academic paints. If you’re ready to move up to an Artist-level set, I usually suggest Windsor and Newton. It’s affordable for the quality it offers and available almost everywhere. The main difference between Academic-level vs. Artist-level paint is the pigment content. You’d notice that more expensive brands take longer to consume and you tend to use less paint because the pigment is more concentrated. There are other great brands out there so don’t limit yourself. Please note that there is no universal “perfect” brand. The perfect material for you is like searching for your soul mate. What works perfectly for others might not work for you and vice versa. Keep searching and researching!
This is a Prang set.
4) OTHER STUFF
Palette - If you are using tubes, you will have to use a palette for mixing and storing your squeezed paint. There are portable ones like this one, which I use. You can fold it and carry it with you. And there are ones that are available in round or rectangle shapes with larger wells, more ideal for studio use.
Masking Fluid / Frisket - Masking fluid (or frisket) is a liquid used to block out areas of a watercolor while you paint, thereby retaining the white of the paper or the previous color that was painted. It’s a solution of latex in ammonia and is removed by gently rubbing it off either with your fingers or an eraser, once the painting is dry. (source)
Mediums - I’ve actually never tried using them before but I’ve been reading up and other artists use the following: Gum arabic, iridescent medium, granulation, aquapasto. If you want to know more about them, you can Google them up. :)
Water and Paper Towels or Tissue - Clean faucet or tap water is fine! No need to use mineral or distilled water. If you’re the adventurous type, you can get water from the sea, brooks or streams. Just be prepared for surprises.
5) A FEW TIPS
(1) Be adventurous. Just because an apple looks red doesn’t mean that you have to paint the apple with just red paint. It’s not bad to mix all sorts of colors to create an image. It’s great to try out different painting styles. You can study past/master work, contemporary work, you can mix all sorts of mediums or with watercolor until you come up with something interesting for you. Great things come when you experiment.
(2) Start cheap and work your way up. It’s a great feeling to transition from low grade materials for a few months to higher grade materials. You’ll be able to see the difference and it makes you more keen and discerning. It drives you to research and find out what you’re doing right or wrong, it helps you become adaptable to different surfaces and materials, and it adds a sense of tension and difficulty to your work… All of this contributes to the expansion of your skill set.
To be honest, I learned a lot about painting just by looking for materials for and by myself. It’s occasionally disastrous but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. So stop asking the next artist “what brand are you using?” and start creating and start discovering things for yourself.
(3) Don’t be in a hurry. Excellent results don’t come out immediately. There will be bad days no matter how long you’ve been with the craft, so always make sure that you are enjoying every minute of it. If it’s giving you a bad time, relax and take a breather until you’re ready to get back to it. Whether or not you have the talent for it, you won’t get anywhere if you stop doing it. Also, research and thinking is important. Almost everything can be found online. I never went to art school or had any formal training in painting. Much of what I know is from my own experience and advice from others and the internet.
I think that’s about it for the basics! Watercolor is one of the more economical mediums. You don’t need to buy so much stuff and you can paint anywhere and not make a mess. Materials are generally cheaper than oil or acrylic as well.
WORKSHOPS / PAINTING LESSONS
I hold watercolor workshops a few times a year (usually from March-June in Ortigas). If you’d like to learn how to do watercolor first hand, how to use these materials or get help in finding which material is best for you, etc., just email me email@example.com to apply and I will notify you whenever I’m opening group/private lessons in the future.
Hi guys, I need 13 more votes to be featured on See.Me’s FB Page. For some incentive, I’ll be giving anyone interested of those 13 a free 5x7 inch vintage style charcoal portrait. If interested, send me a message either on tumblr or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Let me know that you voted, send me a photo and expect a portrait posted in this blog tomorrow :)
I really hope you guys can help me out >_< Deadline’s tonight at 11:59 pm EST.
Hey guys, have a look at Mara’s work and see how awesome she is! I really love illustrations and I think it would be amazing if she could go to Paris and illustrate there. <3
Hello! I know that I never post anymore about anything besides wip and personal art. There were people looking for travel photos… so yes why not! 2013 has been nice so far in terms of personal experience. I’ve been to so many places outside of home. I went to Baguio for the 1st time, climbed a mountain for the 1st time (Mount Pulag up north, beautiful place), went to the beach the following week, then to Hong Kong last May, and then Taipei just this June. I’m thinking of one last destination before the year ends. We’ll see, we’ll see!
This is a long post with around 70+ photos (mostly of the location where Spirited Away's environment was based on). Just click read more to view the rest of the entry.
Here are progress shots of an illustration I worked on in the past month. From something soft… then all of a sudden ridden with paint. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop!
I started this on the 2nd week of June although I never had the exclusive time to work on it. I travelled to Taiwan and then just last week I was swamped with paper and document work. For the duration of 1 month I was only able to produce 1 work. There are just days when I just don’t want to touch a brush anymore. Hopefully whatever I’m in right now would ease out and I can get back to painting like a regular person again. ;_;
There is a really problematic culture of artists underpricing their commissions online - though I’m sure this practice extends towards the ‘real world’. A fun fact before we start: the internet is actually part of the ‘real world’. If you don’t think that industry artists are…
Reposting this on Tumblr from my defunct blog because people have been looking for it! :)
Sometime last year, Times Trading gave me a set of Derwent Inktense Ink Blocks for review and for my workshop sampling. Inktense blocks are made of solidified ink, not watercolor, which means it’s permanent and rich in pigment, great for multiple applications and wet-on-wet. It’s a very versatile medium which you can use on paper and cloth surfaces.
This is what it looks like inside the tin box. 12 heavily pigmented blocks ready for your consumption.
Here’s my work area. No need for so additional stuff. All you need are brushes (I’m using Pebeo here), a palette, your paper to draw on, a cup of water, tissue, and your Inktense Blocks set. Let’s go under the cut to read my comments about this wonderful art medium.
Derwent Inktense can be used in 3 different ways:
1) Like a crayon
This is the most common way to use water-soluble blocks. You can see that unlike watercolor pencils, Inktense blocks fully dilute with water, it doesn’t leave any scratch or crayon marks unless you intend them to.
2) Chinese painting style
Second is the Chinese painting style: using the blocks like ink blocks and stroking it on your palette with water. Inktense blocks dilute to an almost same consistency as watercolor.
3) Like a pan set
Third is by using the blocks as your actual paint pan set like what I’m doing above. Some people will say, “that’s wrong!” I say, do whatever method you can to produce good work. The nice thing about this method is that your brush holds less water so the pigments transferred to the brush are more intense.
One of the things that I first noticed is that the bleeding is very good. You can see that it doesn’t crackle. It flawlessly merges with other wet areas. One of the main difference between ink and watercolor is that ink is heavily pigmented so you don’t need to use to a lot to get an intense color. One of my students previously bought a Derwent Inktense set before and she used the sticks as hair dye and the colors really show up even on almost-black hair. That’s how heavily pigmented it is!
Inktense pigments are rich. Most of the sticks in the set dilute easily, although I noticed that Yellow Ochre is a chore to melt. Perhaps the granules are more dense. If you notice from the photo below, there are blotches on the hair and they’re quite difficult to even out compared to other colors. But other than that, I have no qualms about this set. I love using it!
Another difference from watercolor is that inks are permanent. You can lift colors from a wet layer without lifting paint from the dry layer. For watercolor, lifting wet paint on a previously painted surface can also lift the lower layer. This is one of the reasons why ink is popular in illustration and comic book coloring. It’s easier to create solid colors; the opacity is thinner, making it is easier to approximate or control.
In a nutshell, inks are very fluid and they’re ideal for Chinese style painting and general illustration work. If you have rice paper you can use Derwent Inktense to mimic Chinese style paintings. You can create fine dry brush strokes as well as wonderful bleeds. Here’s a page from Chao Shao-An’s postcard book given to me by Irene.
Derwent Inktense Blocks can be bought in National Bookstore or the Times Trading shop in Binondo, Manila.
A4 Pad (of 109 Tumblr entries) - jeline_catacutan A5 Pad (of 148 Instagram entries) – abbeysy
Winners were picked randomly by a representative. Congratulations to the winners! Please email your shipping address to email@example.com. Hope you enjoy your sketchpads! By the way, the pads will be available at National Bookstore by the end of June 2013, according to Times Trading, Derwent’s exclusive distributor in the Philippines. Thanks to all who joined! Here’s to more arts and crafts giveaways in the future. :)
What do you mean you're not a blogger anymore? :O :(
Hi! I stopped blogging a few months back (I closed quietgirl.net) because I didn’t have time to write entries anymore and I just wanted to focus on drawing stuff. Right now I just call it tumblring (or tumbling?) Haha… I just post images and maybe just a few comments/reviews on art materials. I always understood blogging as writing articles and narratives about your experiences and sharing them to people. I think it takes a lot of effort to create quality content in this sense so I just stick to maintaining a tumblr, draw more and talk less. (Though I still ramble a lot sometimes). :)
Hi I just want to ask what is the best brand of watercolor to use?
Hi! :) I think that the ‘best’ brand depends on the user’s preference. All this time I’ve been using Prang. It’s a scholastic-level set so it’s really cheap but it works great for me. But if a student wants to upgrade to an artist-level one, I usually recommend Windsor and Newton (bec it’s available here in Manila). As long as it’s artist-grade, you can expect top quality results from the paint. Some paints respond differently, some are more opaque, some diffuse differently on paper, and so on. I haven’t tried artist-level paints apart from Talens and W&N. Some of the famous ones are Schmincke, LeFranc, Daniel Smith, Daler Rowney, Talens, W&N. Some users prefer how a certain brand responds over the other but it doesn’t mean it’s inferior or superior. And these little nuances between brands, you’ll only get to notice them when you’ve been painting for some time already. So if you’re starting, I suggest getting a scholastic set, try it for a year and then upgrade to an artist-level. (But of course if you’ve got money for artist-level sets, then it won’t hurt to buy.) :) I know I didn’t answer your Q directly but you’ll only figure out the best paint for you once you start testing them or reading comparative brand reviews online.
Times Trading got me Derwent sketchpads to review and give away. Yey!
This is called Derwent Academy Sketching Paper. It’s an entry-level sketchpad ideal for sketching and practice work for students and professionals. Please note that this is an academic/scholastic-level paper so it doesn’t compare to artist-level (or high-end) pads but its quality is great for the price that it offers.
What I like is that it comes in smaller sizes. If you are the type who likes to bring a pad outside, the smaller A4 and A5 ones would be great. Plus it’s ring-bound! I like ring bound sketchpads better. You get to maximize the space and the paper doesn’t come off unless you forcefully pull it out.
Second, I love the paper texture. It has shallow teeth, which helps graphite adhere to paper, making your tones richer. It’s acid free too so you won’t have to worry about your paper rotting fast or yellowing out in the long run. 110gsm is a good amount of thickness for sketching. That’s a little thicker than bond/copy paper. If you draw dark in front, it won’t be seen easily on its back side (unless you use a blotting pen). The only qualm I have is erasing. I like using dark pencil for sketching like 3B and 5B. Even after sketching mid-tones with an HB lead, some of the pencil marks didn’t want to come off. You might want to use a kneaded eraser for this one but it still doesn’t erase everything compared to other pads I’ve used. Although I’m not the type who gets disturbed when I see erased pencil marks, I think other people take this factor to heart.
Will I buy this pad for myself? Yes!—if I’m looking for a cheap pad with good paper quality with the right amount of leaves, I’ll definitely go for this one! The best thing I like about it is that it comes in portable sizes and it doesn’t cost much. Again, please note that this is an academic pad. If you are looking for high-end paper, Derwent has Artist-level sketch pads ideal for professional work. You can buy this sketchpad locally at Times Trading, 525 Quintin Paredes St., (Binondo) Manila. You can contact them at 242-5741 to 50 in case you want to have items delivered to you. They also carry most of Derwent’s materials.
PRICES *A3: Php 340.00 *A4: Php 225.00 *A5: Php 115.00 *Prices may change without prior notice.
Also used pens and markers for it. Works great with it!
I’m giving away 2 sketchpads, different sizes: One A4 and one A5. To win a sketchpad, just follow the instructions below:
(A) 1 pc. Derwent Academy Sketching Paper – A5 size (5.83 x 8.27”), 30 sheets acid-free If you want to win this pad, follow my Instagram and comment on this photo with your email address.
(B) 1 pc. Derwent Academy Sketching Paper – A4 size (8.27 x 11.69”), 30 sheets acid-free - If you want to win this pad, comment on this post on Tumblr / Disqus comments with your email address. No need to follow my tumblr!
That’s about it! I will also be throwing in a postcard or a doodle inside the pad. Philippine residents only. Winners will be picked on JUNE 5. :)